Demonstrators from the traveling immigrant rights group Caravan Against Fear protested Monday outside the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's downtown L.A. headquarters against the department's cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. They were joined by other immigrant rights organizations and labor groups, including the L.A. Black Worker Center, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Korean Resource Center.
The speakers and organizers behind the protest demanded L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell support California Senate Bill (SB) 54. If passed, the law would make California a sanctuary state for people who are in the country illegally, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network's Armando Carmona told KPCC. The California state Senate passed SB 54 in early April. Now it's up for a vote in the state Assembly, according to Carmona.
At the protest, eight demonstrators were arrested, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
"We have to come together locally and we have to fight," Carmona said. "There's no other way around it."
In a letter released in early March, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he would "respectfully oppose" SB 54. He said that the main reason is that, if passed, it would restrict local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with the federal government. SB 54 would prohibit the Sheriff's Department from responding to federal requests for notification when a county jail facility houses someone charged with a crime who might also be the subject of an immigration enforcement action, according to McDonnell’s letter.
"SB 54 does not seem to acknowledge the following crimes as 'violent,' but, I certainly do; assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an occupied dwelling, shooting at an occupied building, shooting at an occupied vehicle, or shooting at an occupied aircraft, rape where the victim is unconscious of the act, rape by intoxicating substance, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon by a state prison inmate, or exploding a destructive device or explosive with the intent to injure, just to name a few."
“I think we can agree these crimes and many more are extremely violent felonies,” McDonnell said.
The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on the protest.
Organizers behind Caravan Against Fear's protest said that they hope the rally will change McDonnell's mind, Carmona said.
"We want to make sure that California is at the forefront of fighting off Trump," he said. "We think that SB 54 kind of spearheads the resistance against Trump."
Caravan Against Fear group is in the middle of a California tour. After protesting in L.A., organizers will make their way to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to a map on the group's site:
The tour is calling for California to join a nationwide strike this May Day, May 1, according to Carmona.